Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery. . . .
The unknowable. Dillard quotes Blaise Pascal at this end of the paragraph: "Every religion that does not affirm that God is hidden . . . is not true." Life is a mystery. As much as we try to understand or control it, life remains something divine. Moments of the absolutely ordinary mixed with moments of the absolutely miraculous.
This morning, for my daughter and son, a little miracle happened: school was canceled due to inclement weather. Another six or seven inches of snow fell overnight. I was outside, shoveling, when my wife came out and told me that my kids' spring break had been extended by a day. I stood there in the dark, ankle deep in snow, a little stunned. Which is what mystery is all about.
Recently, I have been focusing on the ordinary of my life. The long days, starting before daybreak, ending after sunset. Answering phones. Registering patients. Scanning medical records. Day-in, day-out. Tedium. I find myself impatient, tired, cranky. (Not that anybody really notices the difference.)
I don't get snow days. Even if the university cancels classes, I still have to show up for work at the medical office. No breaks for me. I used to love snow days when I was younger. They really were gifts. Times to sleep in. Read. Now, on snow days, I have to set my alarm an hour earlier. Get up. Push a lot of snow. Get dressed and go to work. No gifts.
Annie Dillard says that all life is traced on the surface of mystery. Maybe I simply need to look a little harder to see that surface, like staring into a mirror or calm lake.
More snow is coming tomorrow. Five or eight more inches. Saint Marty is tired of shoveling mystery.